What would you do?

My husband, David, is an English as a Second Language/English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher. He has wonderful (adult) students who are very sweet, and often give him gifts.

This Christmas, we received a very special gift from David’s student, Zinmar, who is an Karen woman from Burma. She not only sews, but she weaves her own gorgeous fabric. She had a gift for each of us: David received a (second) traditional Karen tunic, Sam received a sweet little pants & tunic set, and this was mine, addressed as such: IMG_6196[2]

I went on a little Facebook rant about people addressing holiday cards to “Mrs. David Ourlastname”, but when it comes to David’s students giving me amazing gifts, they can call me whatever they like, including “David…wife”.


Problem: I am not a “dress” person. I feel just like this awesome picture I saw of Ellen Page one time, before she came out & when she was still “finding her style”:


You see how uncomfortable she looks? Well, me too. But a wise friend of mine suggested I put the dress on & take a photo of myself in it (although it didn’t fit, because Zinmar flatters me, and definitely made the dress for a smaller imagined version of David’s wife), and then I’d be free to do what I wish with it. So…


Thank you, Zinmar. And now….

I took it all apart. Carefully, respectfully, as if it were precious, which it is. When I was finished, I ended up with several small pieces (collars, sleeves) and several large body pieces. I put a zig-zag stitch around all the edges that weren’t finished off from weaving:


And now I have a beautiful stack of woven material that I would say is the weight & feel of a linen. So, readers, what would you do with such beautiful material? Journal covers? A very special quilt? Can you make a quilt with woven linen like this? Do tell.

IMG_6556  IMG_6533


Journal52: Weeks 3 & 4

No, I’m not petering out (I don’t think); I just didn’t really like how my pages came out for these weeks, so I waited until there were two spreads that I was unhappy with instead of just one. Heh. That makes sense, right? (No!)

Anyway, the Week 3 prompt was “Conversation Starters“.  I deviated from that, not using a conversation I overheard, but instead trying to make a page about a conversation/relationship that’s been weighing on me for a while.


It came out just as ugly as it feels.  Which I guess is fitting. I did some stacked journaling in the background, then made the letters out of that. It makes me realize that I really want to work on my lettering. Some details:  IMG_6527



The prompt for Week 4 was “silhouettes“, my favorite of which is the silhouettes of the trees outside my window against the winter sky.


The winter sky is something that I’ve always wanted to figure out how to portray, a feeling of cold light that I have struggled to communicate in word or image, but I think I’m getting closer here. I’m liking the subtle swirls of pale yellow. What I’m not liking is the way the trees look big & clumsy, hand-like instead of….well, tree-like. I just can’t seem to get the hang of the way the branches angle off the trunk. Any advice out there?


I also really wanted to add a prayer that I just love, but I cannot find correct attribution yet, and I don’t want to publish it anywhere without correct attribution. So that’s have to wait until I can do a little more research.

Onto Week 5!

Kantha stitch shirt

Today I have something to share that isn’t an art journal page!  I like to switch it up. So much so, in fact, that I’m constantly in the middle of projects of all media types, although my art journal is a background constant.

The problem: So, as a person who likes to make artsy craftsy messes, my clothes always have a small amount of paint or ink or something on them. And as a hopeless cat purrson (I’m allergic, yet I live with 3 and volunteer at a shelter with 200 others), I usually also have tiny claw holes in my shirts, right on the stomach. That is not an attractive or easily coverable place for tiny holes.

The conditions of the solution: I didn’t want to throw out the shirt. Actually, I think I started this project when I was pregnant, and didn’t have a whole lot of stuff to wear (and I really hate clothes shopping). Also, I’m not really comfortable in “feminine” clothes, so I had a hard time thinking of an androgynous way to embroider something over the holes and stains. What to do, what to do…

Solution: A VERY simple Kantha (running stitch)!

Can you see the ink?

I’m not sure I remember the details because it’s been so long, but I’m pretty sure I started with the middle line. I wanted it to be slightly wonky (as per my usual) and a good, random mix of neutrals, with a bright blue thrown in the pop against the red. So I folded the shirt in half, marked it on the inside, and got to work with the middle line. IMG_6485[1]

I was pretty happy with how it came out, but as soon as I wore it the stitches started to pull out (I’d knotted them). I’m so rough on clothes. Anyway, I knew I needed some kind of interfacing, but I’d never done that, so I put it off and put it off for a whole year. This winter I find myself with an almost 8-month-old and yet still wearing the same shirt (heh) and still wanting to show off my handiwork. So….

I used Pellon Fusible Sheerweight and so far, so good. It sort of “glued” the stitches down, and now that I’ve washed it drapes better than after I first ironed it on. I’m pretty proud of my problem-solving, even if it did take longer to make this shirt than my baby. Hopefully I’ll get to wear it another winter at least, if the cats or the paint don’t get to it first!


Journal52 Week 2: Just Be


The prompt for Week 2 of Journal52 was “Just Be”.


My first thought was mindfulness meditation, a practice I’ve been working on since Autumn 2013 or so. It’s been a very positive influence on increasing my patience, but also my ability to be present during both joyous and very painful moments. It was such a gift to be mindfully and peacefully present during my grandfather’s death, watching every breath of both of ours so closely. It definitely helped me deal with the pain of labor, and I went 20 hours with no pain medicine, after which I took a short epidural nap and then got up & pushed for 5 hours straight, for a total of a 32-hour labor. But on the flip side of those things, when people throw out that old chestnut, “Enjoy every moment”, I can honestly say I’m able to come close. And maybe not enjoying, but BEING.


This is my self-portrait. Maybe a little harsh, or maybe I’m not such a good draw-er yet. But honestly, I really like it. I think it accurately captures some of my most prominent features, the ones that most people might think are put-downs, but that I like about myself (most of the time)–my scraggly hair with ever-present winter hat, the dark circles under my eyes that have been there since I was a tiny baby, my father’s thick eyebrows and my mother’s thick lips.


One of these days I’ll figure out how to draw hands & feet. Today is not that day.

I also really like how the colors came out. I started with a fairly random background idea–blue watercolor with acrylic yellow dashes. I’ve been listening to/learning about George Harrison recently, and was singing the Hare Krishna chart while I was drawing. When I finished,  I realized I’d be Krishna blue, which is kinda cool.


And my Journal52 is already getting kinda puffy & juicy. Yay!

My Handmade Journal52

Hi again! Today I’m excited to share the details of my handmade Journal52.

I usually hand bind my own writing journals and art journals, so when I read about Journal52, I knew I’d make my own.  I think I’m starting to “find my groove” with bookbinding, and prefer long stitch on a duct/Duck tape spine, but I also try different things a lot.

This time I decided to go with a 5-hole pamphlet stitch, or at least the variation thereof that happened when I read this tutorial and later attempted it while not sitting in front of said tutorial. I used cardstock, cut into what was called “quarter sized” when I made zines–I guess 4.25″ x 5.5″ folded. I decided to try a fabric cover usings some old t-shirt material that I liked with the spine area reinforced with denim (mostly not visible, except in the between-signature spreads).


I don’t use fabric covering too often, and obviously a jersey knit is going to be stretchier than a weave, so the lines ended up looking a little wonky. I like a little wonky. It’s my blessing & my curse.


My preferred closure is a long ribbon/braid/strand of thread wrapped around a button on the front. This one is sparkly & pink.

I appliqued a strip of fabric from another long lost shirt of mine, a beloved 70’s polyester print. I used an embroidery stitch I invented myself, called “I tried to figure out herringbone stitch as I went along, and ended up with a ragged barbed wire-type thing”. I like it. See: a little bit of wonkiness above.


And somewhere in the process I did a spread on the endpapers, announcing the project to come, collage & watercolor & boookbinding notes.


Any readers who bind their own books, please share your favorite links! Or your own bookbinding adventures, of course!

Journal52: Week 1

Anyone looking for a free yearlong art journal prompt workshop & community? Here it is! It’s called Journal52 and I just learned about it from one of my favorite artist/bloggers, Michelle at Inspiration Everywhere. I know it’s January 16th & all, but better late than never, and they say that over at Journal52 too, so here’s my take on Week 1: Pathways


It’s this blog! And a labyrinth/brain, and a face that popped out of the outline, looking forward.  So, I was thinking about the path that I want to take with my art, and I keep coming back to this blog.  I need to reach out to a community of artists, to share as much as I’ve been learning from all the great blogs out there. Working in a vacuum is no fun, and at first it was probably a fear thing; I thought my art sucked, that I was still too “new” at everything, and so I didn’t think I had much to share. I’m still not sure I do, but I’m gonna give it a go, and hopefully make some friends here too.

I bound my own journal for this project, and I’ll share bookbinding photos & details in my next post. See you then!